A Few Of My Favorite Things #1

I order from Vitacost at least every other month to ensure we are well-stocked on products we love. I’ve made quite a few purchases there recently, and thanks to $40 in coupon codes, I couldn’t pass up getting some of our favorite goodies. Below are five items that my husband and I simply cannot live without:

  1. The perfect base to a delicious smoothie. friday fave 1I still very much love the Garden of Life Raw Meal protein powder, but this whole meal shake is the bomb dot com. We mix it with some unsweetened chocolate almond milk, hemp and chia seeds, PB Fit powder, a banana or two, and a handful of greens for a morning meal that really does hold us over for a few hours. The ingredients are so simple, and yet the taste makes you wonder what it is in it that makes you want more.
  2. A healthier Oreo. friday fave 1 I know I know. Why buy a fake Oreo when the real ones are so good? Don’t get me wrong; Oreos are delicious, but I also know how terrible they are for my body. Palm oil, enriched flour, and high fructose corn syrup are not things I need to ingest when I want a treat. These Newman’s Own cookies have replaced Oreos in this household, and the best part is my husband actually prefers them! #wifewin
  3. The perfect dry shampoo. friday fave 1Truthfully, I have lost count of all the dry shampoos I have tried. Batiste, Psst, and Not Your Mother’s are just a few, but I have also tried plain cornstarch and baby powder as well. Nothing works as well as this one by Acure Organics. My hair is chemically treated, blonde, fine, and oily all at the same time, which makes finding products that work a challenge. I bought this on a whim a few months ago and love it. It actually gives my hair a bit of volume, and although it falls flat by lunch, I’ll take a few hours of successful second day hair than none at all. Depending on your hair type, you will either love this product or hate it, but for my thin hair, it works better than all the others I have tried.
  4. A clarifying shampoo that works in hard water. friday fave 1My husband and I moved to West Virginia three years ago, and my hair has never fully adjusted to the horrible hard water we have in our area. I have invested in expensive Malibu clarifying shampoo, a chlorine removing one by Paul Mitchell, and tried simple baking soda and apple cider vinegar, but nothing worked. In fact, the Malibu shampoo destroyed my hair to the point I went through two deep conditioners before it felt like hair again. This one by Avalon Organics cleans my hair without stripping it of its natural oils, and if I follow up with a deep conditioner, it actually looks good air dried. When that happens, a product is automatically a win-win in my book.
  5. A perfect price point body lotion. friday fave 1When it comes to body lotion, I don’t want anything sticky, heavy, or too fragrant, yet it has to work. I have went through three bottles of this lotion and will continually repurchase it. Not only does 32 ounces last six months easily, but the hydration lasts all day. The ingredients are trustworthy too, which makes me feel more confident in the product since the skin, the largest organ in the body, is what’s absorbing it.

There you have it: Five products my husband and I cannot live without. What are some of your favorites?

*Vitacost referral link: http://goo.gl/ykAyVW

 

A Spring Salad

Gone are the heavy days of winter where I want to snuggle up in a blanket and eat warm soup and butter bread. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still a carb lover at heart, but my diet tends to change when winter ends. With the days getting longer and the sun shining 75% of the time, I don’t want to spend an endless amount of time in the kitchen slaving over a stove. I prefer fast, yet satisfying meals. My friend, this spring salad has it all. Protein, fiber, dairy (a cheese substitute can be used instead if you can’t have dairy, even though I’m lactose intolerant and have no issues with feta), antioxidants, vitamins, and so much more. Trust me. You want this 10 minute salad.

  • Romaine Lettuce: Only contains 17 calories per serving and has high water content, which is perfect to help control your weight.
  • Carrots: High in beta-carotene, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and good for your cardiovascular health
  • Strawberries: High in fiber and potassium, not to mention they are delicious
  • Walnuts: An essential fatty acid that contains manganese and Vitamin B
  • Craisins: Honestly, just provides enough sweetness to appease my occasional craving of junk food
  • Hemp Seeds: Contains 10 grams of protein per 3 TBSP; contains iron and other essential minerals needed in your body; I buy mine here.
  • Feta Cheese: A Greek cheese made primarily from goat or sheep’s milk; has a salty, tangy flavor; lower in calories than traditional cheese from cow’s milk; nutritional in moderation due to the salt content; tastes delicious and a staple in this Greek woman’s household
  • Olive oil and red wine vinegar: Used as the dressing, but feel free to use any vinaigrette of your choice

Now, I am by no means a nutritionist, so I encourage everyone to do their own research when it comes to their diet. Know your needs and approximate calorie intake each day and stick to a plan. I wouldn’t eat this salad five nights a week, but for my size and weight, once or twice is ideal. My husband even loves it and he despises vegetables.

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Go ahead and savor this spring salad. 

I had two pups watching me as I made the salad and couldn’t help but snap their pictures. They’re my forever sidekicks!

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Leia, the watcher of all food making activities

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Miner, the one who expects food because he knows he’s cute.

If you try this salad, let me know what you think!

Love Grown

I am not a big cereal eater, but my husband certainly is. Captain Crunch, Lucky Charms, Honey Nut Cheerios…he loves (almost) all of them. Did you know that so many of the cereals found in the supermarket contain ingredients that are toxins to our body? A common one is sugar. Look at any ingredient list or nutrition facts and you will be astounded at how many grams are in each serving. Way too many. Another common additive is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), an ingredient that contains mercury and is known to lead to obesity and diabetes. BHA/BHT (preservatives), artificial coloring, and hydrogenated oils are three other common additives in cereal, but one would not know it without thoroughly examining an ingredient list. It’s common for the words “WHOLE GRAIN” to lead a consumer to think the product must be healthy when in reality, the cereal can be just as toxic as those not labeled whole grain.

I don’t mind my husband’s love of cereal, but I have never been okay with him eating food for breakfast that only spikes his blood sugar and makes him hungry again in two hours. While at Kroger last week, I found a cereal called Chocolate Power O’s and figured it couldn’t hurt to try it. Guess what? Matt loves it! It has the sweet chocolate taste he craves in a cereal, but what it doesn’t have is even better. No preservatives, no gluten, no chemicals, non GMO, and fills him up longer than your average cereal. Would you believe beans can taste so good?

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Even though I don’t eat much cereal, I catch myself eating a bowl for breakfast too!

Navy, lentil, and garbanzo beans -all beans high in protein- are the superfoods behind this delicious cereal. It only has 9 grams of sugar per serving, which is much better than the 15+ in an average children’s cereal. Below is the ingredient list:

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All things that a consumer can pronounce combined with the great taste of chocolate makes this product a win-win. Try it and let me know what you think!

Chocolate Caramel Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Smoothies. They are the perfect quick breakfast, easy lunch, or lazy dinner. I firmly believe there is never a wrong time (or wrong way!) to make a smoothie, but it helps when you have a mix to add to whatever ingredients you were going to use. Now, I am a longtime lover of the Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal in chocolate and my husband swears by it for energy and daily nutrition. Add in some extra chia and flax seeds, some peanut butter, a banana, and ice, and you have a crazy healthy meal in minutes. Lately however, I have been on the hunt for a different flavor to mix into my routine and came across one that may tie with the Garden of Life for a new favorite. Meet Plant Fusion Phood, a plant based whole food meal replacement shake. I haven’t tried it on its own yet with just water or almond milk, but in a smoothie, the stuff is freaking fantastic.

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I start off by adding about a cup of the almond milk (gauge it based on how much liquid you want), followed by the frozen banana, a spoonful of peanut butter, one scoop of the powder, and 3-4 ice cubes. Those amounts will make one large smoothie or two smaller ones. A great thing about smoothies is that they can be modified to your liking. Next time, I may add some kale or spinach for some green nutrients or a tablespoon of hemp seeds for added omegas. It is a filling “meal” that tastes like a dessert! I bought mine here, but I know our local Healthsmart sells it too.

Are there any smoothie recipes you’d like to share? I’m always up for making new ones! Enjoy!!

 

*Vitacost referral link for $10 off your first order (not affiliate): http://goo.gl/ykAyVW

A Day of Thanks

No matter your thoughts on Thanksgiving, it’s still a day where most people are off work and can relax with family and friends. For me, I am simply happy eating yummy food, spending time with my husband, and possibly get a head start on my online Black Friday shopping 🙂 This year, I’m extremely thankful my dog, Leia, is going to be okay. She ate half the handle off an umbrella (note to pet parents: don’t let an umbrella fall next to the toy bin) and got plastic in her abdomen and intestines. She’s been at the vet for the past 36 hours severely dehydrated and monitored closely. If she didn’t end up passing the plastic pieces, she would surgery first thing in the morning. Well, the vet called earlier today and said she had started eating and drinking, along with taking medication. If she is like this tomorrow, chances are she’ll be home by lunchtime. I’m so grateful we know our dog enough that if she’s acting out of character, we can pick up on it. We know her daily patterns and when that changed, our pet parent cues kicked in and got in touch with the vet. If we hadn’t caught it in time, she could have faced an entire bowel obstruction or bowel perforation, neither of which are good. I had a wonderful day with my other fur babies and Matt, but I am especially thankful Leia can come home and will be herself again.

For those at the medical school who aren’t able to be with friends and/or family on Thanksgiving, the President and his wife host Thanksgiving meal in the new student center. Matt and I took advantage of this free meal and shared some time with friends we don’t see too often. Overall, it was a wonderful meal, and I’m especially thankful for the WVSOM community that surrounds us.

No matter how you celebrated Thanksgiving, I hope it was a day of rest and relaxation. Happy Thanksgiving from The Smiths!!

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A Weekend In

If you would have told me six years ago in college that I would have enjoyed 48 hours to myself while my husband visits his family in North Carolina, I would have thought you were nuts. I am pretty social by nature and have always spent time with friends or family when I had  the chance. However, that has all changed since college ended. I now spend 40+ hours a week working with people and actually treasure a few minutes by myself. This weekend was just what the doctor ordered.

Matt left Friday night to visit his family in North Carolina, so I had the whole weekend to myself. At first, I really did think I would be bored and do nothing but household chores all weekend to stay busy. Boy, was I wrong. I went grocery shopping and cleaned (#adultlife), but also took that time to focus on myself. As a social worker, self care is top priority and it’s so easy to lose focus of that when you’re constantly looking after other people. I found the time to meal plan for this upcoming week (blog post coming later on my method and why it works), managed to hardcore coupon for the first time in weeks (see entry here on some of my tips and tricks to save your hard-earned cash), work out, and take time for some fun activities.

These lovely faces are what I woke up to this morning:

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I’m pretty sure she’s glad to have the pillow all to herself 😉

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Never alone

Our dogs sleep with us every night, and I know that is debatable on whether it’s good or bad, but we don’t care. It works for us, and we love it. They are our protectors, and I can definitely say I feel safer with them in the house. Occasionally the cats will join us, but that’s usually not until we need to get up in the morning and then are torn between actually getting up and moving them or staying in bed just a little bit longer. Thankfully I had nowhere to be this morning, so I laid in bed until 11:00 with them 🙂

As the day went on, I saw animals everywhere I went. That’s usually how it goes in this house…five pets, small house! Yes, the throw pillow does say “I like big mutts and I cannot lie.” Thank you Zulily for your awesome deals and late night shopping sprees.

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A few weeks ago, I decided to purchase a small pillow and some fabric at Walmart with the idea of making my first actual sewing project. Well, I had the time today and thought why not go for it. I inherited my YiaYia’s sewing machine when she passed away in May and believe me, I wish I had learned more from her. I haven’t even yet figured out how to put new thread or a new needle on, so I’m using black thread for everything right now. The pillow isn’t perfect, but I winged it and think it actually came out pretty good. Gotta start somewhere right?

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Front side

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Back side

All in all, this was a fantastic weekend. Would I want Matt gone more often? Heck no;he’s already gone enough, especially during the week. However, one weekend by myself was perfect, and I feel so much more rejuvenated for the hectic holiday season that is rapidly approaching. Now husband, COME HOME!!

Fall Time is Pie Time

When Matt and I went apple picking last week, we brought home over 5 pounds of apples. What’s a couple to do with so many apples? Bake a pie of course! Neither of us have ever baked a pie, so I turned to good old Pillsbury for advice; see link below for recipe. The only change we made was using raw cane sugar by instead of white sugar. Raw cane sugar (we use this one by Florida Crystals), although still having the same properties as regular sugar, is not bleached and over processed to make it white. As a bonus, Florida Crystals is sustainably sourced and made in the USA, so you can feel better knowing your purchase is not supporting unethical practices.

Now onto the good stuff! We set aside our entire afternoon to make this pie since 1) we have never done it before and 2) the recipe says to give it about three hours or so. We had a lot of fun making this pie and it came out DELICIOUS. With such cute company too, it was impossible to not enjoy our time together. Matt worked over 50 hours at the hospital last week, so it was a much needed afternoon of being together doing something different. Plus, we now have enough pie to have a piece for breakfast every day this week. Yum!

https://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/perfect-apple-pie/1fc2b60f-0a4f-441e-ad93-8bbd00fe5334

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